Come on in! Let's talk FOOD!

"Bacon grease makes pretty much anything taste better!" is the local philosophy and I grew up on good, down home country cookin'! Although I've ventured into a healthier way of eating (some of the time) I still enjoy many of the favorites of my childhood. I also have a passion for Italian food and I'm slowly but surely learning the pleasures of cooking with fresh herbs. Here I'll share with you a broad spectrum of recipes...some healthier than others, but all of them guaranteed DELICIOUS! : )

*I have imported posts from my other blog. These posts may involve topics other than food, but they do include recipes or food related information at some point in the post. Future posts to this blog will be more strictly food-related but I did want to include these recipes here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The BEST Glaze for Ribs....EVER!

The first time I ever ordered ribs in a restaurant, it was TGIFriday's and I chose the ones with the Jack Daniels glaze.  (Don't ever mistake the sauce for the glaze.  I'm hear to tell you that the sauce doesn't compare!)  I've had them several times over the years and every single time I think they are the very best I've ever had!  I dearly love that glaze.

I had never cooked ribs at home until about a year or so ago.  I knew that none could compare to Friday's but I was willing to try.  ; ) I Googled and searched and finally came up with a copycat recipe for that oh so delicious Jack Daniels glaze!  I am pleased to say that this is some of the most amazing stuff I've ever eaten!  And it doesn't contain even one drop of Jack Daniels.  LOL!  That's not exactly something I keep on hand and I wasn't about to go out and buy a whole bottle just to make this.  And you know how I am with recipes...they're only suggestions, you know. ; ), shall we say?  This is what I came up with and it works splendidly! Hope you'll give it a try.

Jack Daniels Copycat Glaze  <---click here for printable version
*First of all, drain 1 can of crushed pineapple, saving juice.  Press the pineapple to get as much of the juice as possible.  Add enough water to make 1 cup.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the pineapple to use in this recipe and use the rest to make a nice pineapple upside down cake for dessert.  ; )

1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 1/3 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
a sprinkle of garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced onions
2 tablespoons crushed pineapple
1/4 teaspoon dried, crushed peppers

 In small saucepan combine pineapple juice, teriyaki, soy and brown sugar.  Whisk together and cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, add remaining ingredients, combine well and allow to simmer until reduced to a thick glaze.  This can take as long as an hour and a half.  Just watch the progress and stir it occasionally until it reaches the desired consistency.

Spoon or brush some of the glaze over cooked ribs or pork loin.  Use remainder for dipping.

~ The original recipe was a bit more complicated and I'm all about simplicity.
It called for roasting your own fresh garlic and I see no reason for
going to that much trouble when garlic powder does just as well. ~

~This glaze is so rich that you really need to use very little.
I nearly had a cow when I saw the tiny cup they brought with my ribs
at Friday's!  Then I tasted it and realized it takes very little
for a whole lot of flavor. ~

~As for how to prepare the meat on which you'll serve this glaze,
my best advice is to keep it simple.
I use a small amount of our favorite rub on my ribs,
wrap them in foil and put them in the oven 
to cook slowly over the course of 3 or 4 hours.  
Then I throw them on the grill just long enough to get that
lovely, smoky, hot-off-the-grill flavor.
Brush on the glaze and transfer from the grill to a serving platter. ~  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Homemade Noodles

Who doesn't love homemade noodles?
This girl could eat 'em pretty much every single day.
But alas, I'd be big as a house, so I control the urge.
I used to be intimidated by the very thought of making my own noodles,
but there truly is nothing to fear!
This recipe is the best I've used so far and it's super simple.
It's an Amish recipe, so you know it's good.
Those Amish folks sure do know how to cook.

If you've never made noodles, or if you have made noodles
but weren't impressed with the results, 
try these.
You'll be glad you did.
Homemade Noodles  <=====Click here to print!  (Printable version is text only)

1 cup HIGH GLUTEN flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons oil
3 Tablespoons water

Combine flour and salt in mixing bowl and make a well in the center.  Put remaining ingredients in well and stir with a fork until dough is formed and there are no dry particles remaining.  

You may add more water if needed, but the noodles will be better if you don't have to.  Add by the teaspoon and add as little as possible.  On lightly floured surface, knead until you have a smooth dough.  

Usually takes about 5 minutes.  Cover with a tea towel and let rest for 45 minutes.
Cut dough in half and roll each half into a rectangle.  (I doubled the recipe today, therefore I had 4 sections to roll out.)

You want the dough to be very thin, but not paper thin. 

Dust with additional flour while rolling so dough does not get sticky.  Place sheets of dough on lightly floured cloth and let rest for another 30 minutes.  

Dust each sheet of dough lightly with flour and fold each in half, then slice into strips with a pizza cutter.

Or roll each sheet jelly roll style and slice into narrow strips with a very sharp knife, whichever you prefer.

Shake out each noodle and lay in single layer on flour dusted towel.  

Let dry.  Drying can take anywhere from a couple of hours to several hours, depending upon humidity. 

When ready to cook noodles, bring water or broth to a boil and add noodles.  Cook for 7 or 8 minutes, or until tender.   (I actually cook mine longer than that because that's just how I roll...I like 'em DONE and tender.)

These are wonderful cooked in chicken or beef broth.  You can also use them to make chicken noodle soup.  If making soup or adding other ingredients to the broth with the noodles, fully cook other ingredients in the broth prior to adding noodles.  The noodles should be the last thing you add since they take such a short time to cook and are incredibly delicate and tender.

*I apologize for not having a pic of the finished product, but we had to rush dinner somewhat in order to get to ball practice and I completely forgot to snap a pic!  By the time I thought of it, the pan was EMPTY.  Guess that's enough of a testament to how good they were though.  ; )  I did save half of them (dried and uncooked) to use in another meal.  Maybe I'll remember to snap a shot then.  

Tips and Tricks

*High gluten flour is SUPER IMPORTANT!  
Any flour that says 'better for bread' is high gluten.   
* Cook diced onion, carrots and celery in chicken broth. 
You can add thyme, basil, parsley...any seasonings you enjoy.
Add fully cooked, diced chicken.
Add dried noodles and cook until tender.
Now serve your family some of the best chicken noodle soup
they've ever had!
*Cut noodles in whatever way works best for YOU.
There are no hard and fast rules.  
If you plan to roll them, make sure your knife is SHARP.
A pizza cutter or an Alaska knife are what I prefer.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Meaty Lasagna...the regular version and the 'making do' version

The other day I got a text from my friend Brian asking if I had a really good lasagna recipe I'd be willing to share.  I was more than happy to oblige and while I was at it, I sent him the link to my White Lasagna  for future reference.  Well, he ended up making the white lasagna and loving it.  But that was of no importance to me, you see, because he had already implanted the idea of a meaty, tomato-y, cheesy lasagna in my head.

Now mind you, we've been enduring a horrid heatwave here, just like most of the rest of the country.  Who on earth in their right mind would want to heat up a kitchen for the amount of time it takes to boil the water for the noodles and then bake a pan of lasagna? 

Yeah, that would be me.  I managed to control the desire for several days but I eventually caved and made a pan.  And while I did not find everything I needed in my fridge and pantry, I made up my mind that I was NOT going to the grocery store and I would make do with what I did have.  You know what?  It worked.  And it worked well.  The Hubster said it was some of the best lasagna he's ever had and that kind of praise doesn't come easily around here.  ; ) The original recipe (which is also very good!) is first and I've added my 'making do' changes in the notes that follow. 

Kelli's Lasagna <------  Click here to print!

1lb mild Italian sausage  
1 lb. lean ground beef  
¼ to 1/3 cup minced onion (to taste)  
2 cloves garlic, minced  
1 28oz. can HUNT’S tomato sauce (I always use Hunt’s if I want it to be good! )  
1 lg. can Hunt’s crushed tomatoes  
1 small can Hunt’s tomato paste  
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning (if it’s super fresh; if it isn’t very strong, use as much as 1 tsp.)  
Fresh basil, chopped (to taste…I use probably 4 or 5 large leaves…you can use about 1 tsp. dried, but it’s not as good)  
1 lb. whole ricotta (not low fat!)  
4 cups shredded mozzarella (reserve 1 cup for top of dish)  
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  
2 eggs  
1 tablespoon dried parsley  
½ teaspoon garlic salt  
Lasagna Noodles

    Place ground beef, sausage and minced garlic in large skillet. Crumble and brown meat. Drain well but do not rinse. Rinsing takes away all of the flavor! I usually pour mine out on a couple of layers of paper towels, then dump it back into the skillet. Add onions, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and Italian Seasoning. Stir over medium heat until well combined and heated through. Add basil and stir. If mixture seems dry, add a little water or a little more tomato sauce as needed. You don’t want it overly saucy, but not completely dry either.

    Mix ricotta, 3 cups of the mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, parsley and garlic salt.

    Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, or use Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles. (If you really want to impress, don’t use the Oven Ready. The texture is a little different.)

    In lasagna pan (or 13”x9” baking pan…or slightly larger) spread a layer of meat sauce. Place single layer of lasagna noodles on sauce. Top with ½ of the cheese mixture. Add another layer of meat sauce and then second layer of noodles. Repeat with second ½ of cheese mixture and final layer of noodles. Top with meat sauce, making sure noodles are completely covered. Sprinkle with remaining cup of mozzarella and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Cover with non-stick foil (or spray regular foil with cooking spray) and place in a 350* oven for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese on top turns golden. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

     * If you need to 'made do' because you're out of certain things, it's easy to change it up to suit your needs.  Just make sure that you substitute like items (wet for wet, dry for dry) for the things you're omitting.  I had no crushed tomatoes, garlic cloves, fresh basil or fresh Parmesan.  The sub for the Parmesan was simple...I used good ol' Kraft Parmesan in a shake can.  No problem there.  But the garlic and the fresh basil?  Those were major flavors in this dish.  And since I had no crushed tomatoes, I just grabbed a can of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano.  I used about 3/4 of the can in place of the crushed tomatoes and the missing seasonings.  Voila!  It worked beautifully!  : )

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Sweet and Sour Veggie Salad

    Fresh, colorful and delicious, this is one of those YUMMY summer salads that is great to take to cookouts and picnics because it contains no mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise and hot weather scare me.  I don't like a sick tummy.  And this salad has been a hit whenever I've served it to guests.  There is always a chorus of "May I have the recipe?"  And of course I oblige.  : )  Gotta share the goodness!

    Sweet and Sour Veggie Salad <---  Click here to print

    1 can French cut green beans
    1 can whole kernel corn (preferably white shoepeg)
    1 can baby June peas
    1 jar chopped pimentos
    1 green pepper, chopped
    1 onion, chopped
    2 stems celery, chopped

    1 cup sugar
    ½ cup oil
    ¾ cup vinegar

    Drain first 5 ingredients.  Pour into large mixing bowl and add remaining vegetables.  In saucepan combine dressing ingredients and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour over vegetables.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate at least six to eight hours, preferably overnight.  Stir occasionally during chilling time.

    *This stuff keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks, no problem. :)

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    White Lasagna with (or without) Chicken

    I cannot tell you what a hit this was at my house. I was very bored with the same ol', same ol' and decided to dig through some cookbooks for something new. Trying new things around here isn't always the safest way to go. I have picky eaters in this house. It is a rare occasion when I find something that every single person in this family really enjoys. But this was loved by...

    Every. Single. Person.

    Yeah, baby!

    So here it is. Not in its original form, I might add. You know by now that I always have to change it up to accommodate what's in the fridge/pantry or to give it even a slight chance of being eaten by my family.

    White Lasagna with Chicken (or without, if you prefer) (<--click to print)

    1/2 cup butter or margarine
    1 small/medium onion, chopped
    1 garlic clove, chopped
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons salt
    2 cups chicken broth
    1 1/2 cups milk
    4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
    1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
    A few leaves of fresh basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried basil
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    15 oz. ricotta cheese
    1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
    9 oven-ready lasagna noodles
    2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
    1 cup cubed white meat chicken, full cooked

    Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a 13"x 9" baking dish. In a saucepan, melt butter or margarine and saute garlic and onion until tender. Stir in about half of the broth and then add flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir until no lumps remain (I use a whisk) and then add remaining broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minutes. Stir in two cups mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil, oregano and pepper. Turn off heat and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, parsley, remaining mozzarella and 1 teaspoon salt. In baking dish, spread about 1/4 of the cheese sauce mixture. Top with three lasagna noodles. Top with half of the ricotta mixture, half of the spinach leaves and 1/2 the chicken. Cover with 1/4 of the cheese sauce and then top with three more lasagna noodles. Repeat layers of ricotta, spinach, chicken and sauce. Top with last three noodles and remaining cheese sauce. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 35-40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

    Tips and Tricks

    ~The original recipe called for twice as much chicken and also called for frozen spinach, thawed and well drained. Well, while I am a huge fan of the occasional meatless meal, my husband is not so I thought cutting the amount in half would be a great compromise. I also thought it would be a great way to stretch a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. ; ) This took only one, which I boiled and cubed myself. I guess you could used canned chicken if you want. As for the spinach, what can I say. I prefer fresh over frozen anytime and I very much preferred the texture of the fresh spinach over the typically slimy frozen.~

    ~Oven-ready lasagna noodles are the best thing since sliced bread. At least for this recipe they are. I had never used them before and I must say, I fell just a little in love.
    But just a little.
    I'm not sure I would want to use them every time I make lasagna because for me, there was a slightly noticeable difference in their texture.
    Still, with this creamy sauce, they were very good.
    If you don't have them, the original recipe called for cooked and well drained lasagna.~

    ~No kidding about the let it stand for 15 minutes before cutting rule. Seriously.
    It needs that time to 'set'. Don't skip this step or you'll be disappointed in the gooey mess that runs all over the place.~

    ~I served this along with slices of buttered Italian bread that I had toasted lightly under the broiler and a fresh garden salad, in which I had also used some of the yummy baby spinach leaves. A perfectly wonderful meal.
    And leftovers? This stuff reheats like a dream, even the second day!~

    Saturday, January 29, 2011

    The World's EASIEST Whoopie Pies

    I'm not sure when I first made this whoopie pie, but I think it was about 10 years ago. And while this doesn't compare to the ones we get in Ohio Amish Country (I'm sorry, but those just can't be beat!) it's a great substitute. The ingredients are things you'll more than likely find in your own kitchen, so they're great for when you're just wanting something sweet but don't want to go to the store.

    World's Easiest Whoopie Pies <-------- Click here to print
    1 box chocolate cake mix
    1/2 cup oil
    2 eggs

    1 cup marshmallow creme
    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    1 stick margarine, softened
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Preheat oven to 350*. Combine cake mix, oil and eggs. Roll dough into 1" balls and place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or just until set. Remove from oven and leave on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool. Makes about 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

    Combine filling ingredients. Blend well with hand mixer. Spread filling onto bottom of one cookie and top with another cookie. Now how easy was that? These are super rich! And they're always a hit no matter where I take them. Hope you enjoy them, too! : )

    *Tips and Tricks*

    *I've used many kinds of cake mix with this. With pudding in the mix, without pudding in the mix, dark chocolate, German chocolate, devil's food, you name it.
    I've never had a problem with any of them, but my favorite so far has been
    Betty Crocker dark chocolate. The cookies stay chewier and the flavor is wonderful.

    *Even when a recipe calls for an ungreased cookie sheet, I always use Reynold's Nonstick Foil. Anything to make clean-up a little easier is always the way to go. ; )

    *These will store well for a couple of days, but not much more than that.
    Put them in a container that seals tightly. You can refrigerate if you want the filling
    to be more firmly set, but it may make your cookies a little firmer than you'll like.
    You will have some filling left over, but I'll also say that the cookie recipe doubles well. May as well make twice as many and use up all that filling. ; )
    (If you do this, you will need to use less filling per cookie than I did in these.)

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Chicken Casserole

    Hard for me to believe that it's been more than 20 years since I first tried this casserole. My friend Carolyn invited us to dinner, served this, and I was immediately smitten. (With the casserole, not Carolyn. ; ) )

    Of course I've tweaked it a little over the years. (Ya shocked?) And here is the way I make it now.

    Chicken Casserole <------------Click here to print
    1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
    1/2 medium onion, chopped
    1/2 green pepper, chopped
    1 stem of celery, chopped
    3 tablespoons margarine
    2 cans cream of chicken soup
    1 can cream of mushroom soup
    1 1/2 soup cans of milk bread crumbs or cracker crumbs

    Preheat oven to 350*.

    In a large soup pot, cover chicken breast with water and bring to a boil. Cook until done. Drain. Cut chicken into cubes and return to pot with green pepper, onion, celery and margarine. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until chicken is golden and onions are translucent. Reduce heat and add soups and milk. Stir until well combined and mixture is heated through. Pour into a casserole dish or baking pan. Top with crumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and crumbs begin to turn golden brown. Serve over noodles or rice.
    *The original recipe calls for canned chicken (2 cans). If you're rushed or if you just have lots of money to throw around, you can certainly use canned chicken. My family just requests this so often that it's much more affordable to cook my own.

    *You can mix it up where the veggies are concerned. The original recipe didn't call for green peppers; just onions and celery. The Hubster hates celery so I usually omit it, and we love green peppers so it made sense to add them. Personally, I like all of it. Don't see why you couldn't even add corn, peas, carrots, etc.

    *This time I used Panko bread crumbs because that's what I had on hand. You can also used crushed saltine or Ritz crackers. Seasoned bread crumbs are also a tasty way to top it.

    *Serving this over noodles is preferred by everyone in my family. Some folks like it over rice, but I prefer lighter, less rich foods over rice.